The Festival of Debate is an annual festival that is made up of a series of panel discussions, debates, Q&As, artistic responses and keynote speeches in Sheffield, aiming to create a meaningful dialogue around key social, political and economic issues.
As part of the festival, in early June 2017, the Sheffield Positive Money local group organised a cracking event, “How to create a better, stronger and fairer economy? What they don’t tell you”. At a full room at the Quaker House in Sheffield, the panelists – Simon Duffy (The Centre for Welfare Reform), Natalie Bennett (Green Party) and Adrian Byrne (Positive Money) – each put forward and debated the changes that they want to see in order to create a better, stronger and fairer economy.
Positive Money local group leader and presenter, Adrian Byrne, said:
“I enjoyed participating in the event. It was well attended. The audience was quite mixed in terms of age and gender and the comments from them were varied so I think it was a good audience. Myself and Simon used presentation slides while Natalie simply spoke. I think showing some visual aids is useful from a PM perspective. Natalie said the Green Party are supporters of PM’s agenda. She mentioned the book Doughnut Economics and the ecological fallacy around a finite planet with infinite money.
She argued increasing financialisation was bad for public services and supported Steve Keen’s idea of helicopter money being used to pay down debt as a priority. She also called for a proper functioning democracy and restructuring economies from global to local. This last point caused a bit of a stir when she suggested that the audience boycott all the big supermarkets and at least use the staffed checkouts instead of self-service units if they must use them.
The other panelist, Simon Duffy, called for greater equality and inclusivity and for land value taxation and universal basic income to assist with this call. He said that the current levels of inequality were helping to create wealth and poverty together.
I asked the audience if they felt what was needed to make our society fairer was a matter of some minor tweaking within the current infrastructural set up or rather something major/more radical along the lines of what PM advocate and only one young man put up his hand in support of minor tweaking. Ah the beauty of democracy if only within those four walls that evening.”